Frank / CC BY 2.0

Scientists have made the surprising determination that the genes that influence a person’s ability in math and science are the same as those that determine skills in reading, arts and the humanities. The finding suggests that a student’s weakness in one academic subject over others is likely a function of environmental factors, such as teaching and the types of activities children spend their time engaged in at home and at play.

If correct, the study has profound implications for the design and practice of early public school education — specifically, that low achievement in a subject can be anticipated and corrected on an individual basis.

The Guardian reports:

The findings add to growing evidence that school performance has a large heritable component, with around 60% of the differences in pupil’s GCSE results being explained by genetic factors.

Although scientists are yet to pinpoint specific genes, the latest work, published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that the same ones are involved across subjects.

Robert Plomin, a professor of genetics at King’s College London and the study’s senior author, said: “We found that academic achievement in English, mathematics, science, humanities, second languages and art were all affected by the same genes. People may think that they’re good at one subject and bad at another, but in reality most people are strikingly consistent.”

In the future, if specific genes were identified, nursery children could be screened to help target those who are likely to require more help learning basic skills such as reading and arithmetic, Plomin added.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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